Don’t let the real water cooler dry up…
Standing up and leaning over a cubicle wall to actually talk to co-workers can earn you a lot of social capital.
Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman: The M-factor — How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace (7 Trends You Need to Know to Survive and Thrive)
There are big adjustments going on out there in the workplace. Generations are clashing. People have difficulty relating to each other when that generating gap is a true gap.
I teach at the community college level. It is amazing what my students do not know. Forget the history, the current events, they don’t know. Just look at the differences in shared cultural content. My students have never heard (never heard!) the poem Casey at the Bat. How can an American not know Casey at the Bat? (They also have no clue what this phrase means: “we’ve got trouble, right here in River City.” Which makes me think we’ve got trouble right here in River City!)
But do they know their technology. They are experts, able to do so much so fast, it leaves me in the dust. And I work hard at learning and using this stuff. But it’s pretty clear, it’s all a second language to me. To them, it’s their native tongue.
So there is much I need to learn, but there is also a warning I would like to share. It is prompted by the quote above from the book The M-factor. My warning:
face-to-face needs to be protected and preserved, especially in the age of Facebook.
So, whether you’re just learning how to define, and use, all of this social media on the new technology, or if you live by it naturally day-by-day, don’t forget about human contact, the real live human conversations, actual face-to-face conversations. Face-to-face is still incredibly valuable, even essential, to business success and to life success.
This really is worth remembering.
Last Friday, I presented my synopsis of the book Power by Jeffery Pfeffer. I referred to Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. As I thought about these books, I thought about a skill that is so front and center obvious. In these, and many other books, it is taken for granted, but it probably should be mentioned, and reinforced often: the skill of being a good conversationalist really is the starting place for everything else that follows.
Are you good at the art of conversation? If you are, consider yourself lucky. If not – you’ve got some work to do.
Years ago I heard this definiton (I forget where I heard this, or who said it – my apology to the source):
What is a conversation? The first person speaks while the second person listens. Then the second person speaks while the first person listens. This is called turn-taking.
This is so simple – yet profound. When the other person is speaking, it is your job to listen. It is not your job to be thinking about what you will say next, what you will say in response… but it is your job to listen. If you take your turn at listening, with sincerity and respect and focus, then you have a better chance at being heard when it us your turn to speak.
Anything less than this “listen-speak” turn-taking is not quite a true conversation.
I have not read this book, but I have put it in my “one of these days” stack (so many books – so little time): The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure by Catherine Blyth. Here are a few lines from the book (thanks to Amazon “first pages”)”
All communication is dialogue…
Don’t talk to strangers” Don’t speak until spoken to?
Forget it. Inhibition is useless. How do you start a conversation? Simple: Say hi. It’s easy to say.
And here are three of her five maxims:
Think before you speak.
Listen more than speak.
So, here is your assignment for the week. Have some good conversations. Starting today…